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The MS Ocean Explorer aground in Alpefjord, part of Northeast Greenland National Park, September 13, 2023. Photo Credit: Air Force/Arctic Command

The MS Ocean Explorer aground in Alpefjord, part of Northeast Greenland National Park, September 13, 2023. Photo Credit: Air Force/Arctic Command

Expedition Cruise Ship Pulled Free in Greenland

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 7165
September 14, 2023

The expedition cruise ship that has spent this week stuck aground in a remote Greenland fjord with 206 people on board has been pulled free.

The Ocean Explorer was pulled free early Thursday morning by Greenland’s Institute of Nature’s fishing research vessel Tarajoq. The operation was conducted with no pollution and everyone on board is safe.

Damage to the ship still needs to be assessed, but there is no breach of the hull. With the ship afloat, additional tug assistance has been cancelled.

“We would like to thank the management of Grønlands Naturinstitut, and the entire crew on their vessel TARAJOQ for being open and willing to enter into an agreement with SunStone for the support of the OCEAN EXPLORER,” shipowner SunStone Ships said in a statement. “The agreement was made very efficiently, and the TARAJOQ was on location within two days of the grounding.”

SunStone also thanked other expedition cruise ship operators in the area that offered assistance, namely Quark Expedition, Silver Sea and Hurtigruten. It also thanked Ocean Explorer’s charterer, Aurora Expeditions, and its technical manager Anglo Eastern Cruise Management in Miami, who provided 24/7 shoreside assistance.

“The vessel and its passengers will now be positioned to a port where the vessel’s bottom damages can be assessed, and the passengers will be taken to a port from which they can be flown back home,” the statement said.

The Ocean Explorer, built in 2021, ran aground earlier Tuesday morning while exploring glaciers in Greenland’s Alpefjord, part of Northeast Greenland National Park located on the east coast of the territory.

“We’re really happy that it went so well and that the passengers and crew of the ship can now see an end to the difficult situation they’ve been in for the last few days,” said Captain Brian Jensen, Commander of Denmark’s Joint Arctic Command. “Regardless that no one was in direct danger, I understand if being stuck in such a deserted area with no possibility to move forward has been uncomfortable.”

Initial attempts to refloat the Ocean Explorer at high tide were unsuccessful, prompting the assistance of the Knud Rasmussen, an offshore patrol vessel with the Royal Danish Navy, which was located 1,200 nautical miles away. The Knud Rasmussen was expected to arrive at the scene Friday evening, but has now been stood down.

The Ocean Explorer is on charter to Aurora Expeditions in Australia and began its cruise on September 2, in Kirkenes, Norway. It was scheduled to arrive in Bergen, Norway on September 22.

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